Scripture and Worship Discussion

Sunday, July 3, 2022


Scripture: Luke 8:26-39 (NRSV)


26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— 29 for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.


Discussion Questions:

  1. Rev. Tom admits that he has often skipped preaching on this passage when it has come up in the 3-year lectionary cycle. Are there passages in the Bible that you have chosen to ignore in the past? What might you learn from them if you took another look? 
  2. Rev. Tom uses a story from M. Scott Peck's book, People of the Lie where his son simplifies evil by saying, “Evil is live spelled backwards!” Tom says "evil is those forces, events, systems that impede our fully experiencing abundant life that God offers us." How would you define evil?
  3. According to Peck, lying is a central, overarching theme of evil. We all lie and we all sin. Rev. Tom asks, "what’s the difference between you and I, everyday liars, everyday sinners, and evil?" He says through God's grace we have awareness of our sin and guilt, and can ask for God's forgiveness. How have you experienced God's forgiveness this week, or how might you still be in need of it?

  4. Reading the scripture above, ask yourself these 3 questions: what does it say about God? What does it say about human beings? What does it say about the relationship between God and human beings? These Disciple Bible Study questions are great to use with any passage of scripture.

  5. With whom do you most identify in the scripture passage? What is it about that person that you identify with?

  6. Think about your own life and what healing and forgiveness you have experienced in God’s graciousness. How could you claim yourself as a healed, and faithful person through whom God might combat evil in this world?



Sunday, June 26, 2022



Deuteronomy 24:17-22 (CEB)

17 Don’t obstruct the legal rights of an immigrant or orphan. Don’t take a widow’s coat as a pledge for a loan. 18 Remember how you were a slave in Egypt but how the Lord your God saved you from that. That’s why I’m commanding you to do this thing.

19 Whenever you are reaping the harvest of your field and you leave some grain in the field, don’t go back and get it. Let it go to the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows so that the Lord your God blesses you in all that you do. 20 Similarly, when you beat the olives off your olive trees, don’t go back over them twice. Let the leftovers go to the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows. 21 Again, when you pick the grapes of your vineyard, don’t pick them over twice. Let the leftovers go to the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows. 22 Remember how you were a slave in Egypt. That’s why I am commanding you to do this thing.


Ruth 2:17-20 (The Message)

17-18 Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. When she threshed out what she had gathered, she ended up with nearly a full sack of barley! She gathered up her gleanings, went back to town, and showed her mother-in-law the results of her day’s work; she also gave her the leftovers from her lunch.

19 Naomi asked her, “So where did you glean today? Whose field? God bless whoever it was who took such good care of you!”

Ruth told her mother-in-law, “The man with whom I worked today? His name is Boaz.”

20 Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Why, God bless that man! God hasn’t quite walked out on us after all! God still loves us, in bad times as well as good!”


Discussion Questions


The article, "Called to a Dangerous Oddness,"  by Walter Brueggemann can be read by following this link: https://sojo.net/magazine/january-2020/called-dangerous-oddness


Living Wage Model, 2016 Book of Resolutions, UMC


  1. In what ways have you noticed technology help or hurt the ways that you interact with people around you in the last couple of years? Tania says, “If we have the means we can get all of our living needs meet by not leaving home.”

  2. Tania names Walter Brueggemann as a prophet and also says, “A prophet’s job as known from scripture, from days of old to now, is to disrupt the status quo, to name places of corruption, and to speak boldly into that place with God’s desire and love and care for all of humanity. Do you know of a person who speaks prophetically? Can you give an example?

  3. We hear, as Tania explains the kind of economy Brueggemann says is needed in America, “We have to educate the church that we are not really in the charity business, we are in the justice business.” Tania says, I would add to Brueggemann's quote, “We have to educate the church that we are not really in the charity or feel good business, we are in the justice business.” What do think of this statement? What areas do you agree and what areas do you disagree and why?

  4. Tania says about the Deuteronomy and Ruth texts, “And so it is that we learn from these two texts about what happens when we practice our faith. When we plan for the needs of others that will always be with us (also in Deuteronomy and in the words of Jesus), we become a living testimony of a loving and living God that flows to people in their deepest need. With humility it recognizes that we maybe once were or maybe will one day be in a similar position.” She then asks the question, “Friends, do we see this nation and community that we love and call home doing this? Are we currently a living testimony of a loving and living God that flows to people in their deepest need?” What is your response to this question and why?

  5. Tania’s invite for this week is stated as the following: “This week though, I invite you to step into the place of learning and ask God-infused questions about the poverty around us, especially among people in the service industry. I did a little research. The grocery store where I bought the meat to satisfy my taco urge pays the meat counter prep person $14 an hour. That is $3.40 below what I now know it takes to sustain financial independence in this community. In just a few hours, most of us will eat a meal. I invite us before we eat to pray for all of the hands that touch the food we will consume. I invite us to pray to God that we will be shown ways in which we can be advocates with our resources, where and how we spend our money, for those around us to be able to meet their most basic needs. And then, let's see what the Spirit puts on our hearts and minds to do.” Is there something bubbling up in your spirit as you practice this? What do you believe is the Christian mandate with such discrepancies in wealth in this country?


Sunday, June 19, 2022


Scripture: Acts 10:9-16; 19-20; 23-24; 28-35 (NLT)


9 The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, 10 and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. 12 In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. 13 Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” 14 “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.[b]” 15 But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” 16 The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven.


19 Meanwhile, as Peter was puzzling over the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, “Three men have come looking for you. 20 Get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitation. Don’t worry, for I have sent them.” 


23 So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa. 24 They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 


28 Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. 29 So I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. Now tell me why you sent for me.” 30 Cornelius replied, “Four days ago I was praying in my house about this same time, three o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, a man in dazzling clothes was standing in front of me. 31 He told me, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God! 32 Now send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.’ 33 So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.” 34 Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35 In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. 


Discussion:


1. How much do you know about our nation’s newest federal holiday, Juneteenth? Here are some articles and a reading list to get you started learning more: https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/juneteenth and https://nmaahc.si.edu/juneteenth.


2. Read the whole chapter of Acts 10. Notice what message from God comes to Cornelius, and what messages from God come to Peter. How does Cornelius respond in verse 7-8, 25, and 30-33? How about Peter’s response in verses 17, 23-24, and 34 until the end? How would you characterize their different responses? Who are you most like, Cornelius or Peter?


3. LuAnne highlights some of the pledge that co-workers with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. committed to as part of the non-violent Civil Rights Movement of 1963. Read through the 10 points of the pledge and the 5 Principles of Non-Violence here: http://www.tparents.org/Library/Unification/Talks2/King/King-630000.htm  What stands out to you as a Christ follower that still resonates today as we stand for racial justice and equity and inclusion in our church? Check out the other anti-racism resources on our website here: https://www.fumcholland.org/grow/anti-racism-focus



4. To prepare our hearts and minds to remove barriers and make space for a new multiculturalism in our church, it will take steeping ourselves in prayer. A good place to start is to subscribe to a daily prayer for anti-racism at https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/articles/praying-for-change-daily-prayers-for-anti-racism. Another idea is to use this list of scriptures that reference “all nations” as a prayer focus: https://ywam.org/get-involved-now/all-nations-verse-list. What commitment will you make to steeping yourself in prayer?




Sunday, June 12, 2022


Scripture: Luke 9:49-56 (NLT) 


John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.”


But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.”


As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them.* So they went on to another village.


* Additional clause found in some early biblical manuscripts: "And he [Jesus] said, “You don’t realize what your hearts are like. For the Son of Man has not come to destroy people’s lives, but to save them.”


Discussion:


The article, "Called to a Dangerous Oddness,"  by Walter Brueggemann can be read by following this link: https://sojo.net/magazine/january-2020/called-dangerous-oddness

  1. Like Walter Brueggemann, Brad contends that the rising authoritarianism (totalism) in our world requires people of faith to work together to reclaim a prophetic voice for the justice and reign of God. This is the essence of the new ecumenism.  Do you think it is important for the church to do this work? Why or why not?
  2. Brad states that the church is currently either being co-opted by society (as in the the church's support for authoritarian politics) or marginalized (as in Miller Beer now offering to ordain people). Do you think the church is being marginalized and/or co-opted? If so, how do we as people of faith overcome this?
  3. Brad states that the scripture above teaches that the Church needs to 1) reclaim a generous spirit toward people of other Christian traditions and other religions, and 2) get over our judgment of people whose faith is different than our own. Is there anything else the Church needs to do to be able to connect with other people from other traditions or people who are not of faith?
  4. Brueggemann makes the point, and Brad agrees, that the Church needs to shift from imposing its beliefs as being "universal" and instead name them as they were for the biblical authors - confessions. Confessions are personal statements of faith and do not preclude the possibility of others confessing different beliefs which are as valid as our own. How do you feel about this?